Skip to main content
Presented by

Jets DL Reset: Quinnen Williams 'All-In' Entering Year 2

Gregg Williams’ Defense Finished No. 2 Against the Run, No. 7 Overall 

Table inside Article
How Signed Returning Jets Newly Arrived Recently Departed
Draft Quinnen Williams (2019 1st Rd), Nathan Shepherd (2018 3rd Rd), Folorunso Fatukasi (2018 6th Rd) Jabari Zuniga (2020 3rd Rd) Leonard Williams (2015 1st Rd / 2019 Trade NYG)
UFAs Steve McLendon (2016 PIT)
Trades Henry Anderson (2018 IND)
VFAs Kyle Phillips (2019), Bronson Kaufusi (2018)
Waivers Jordan Willis (2019 CIN), John Franklin-Myers (2019 LAR)
UDRFAs Domenique Davis (2020), Sterling Johnson (2020)

Cornerstones and Returnees
The defensive line is one of the Jets' positions with lots of returning players. The unit welcomes back five players who played at least 13 games last season — Steve McLendon (16), Kyle Phillips (15), Folorunso Fatukasi (14), Henry Anderson (13) and Quinnen Williams (13). Nathan Shepherd and Jordan Willis are also coming back after each appeared in nine games, as well as John Franklin-Myers, who was claimed in September and placed on injured reserve a month later.

The unit finished No. 7 overall, allowing 323.1 yards per game, but its identity starts up front with stopping the run. The group allowed 86.9 yards per game and 3.33 yards per carry, which both ranked second in the NFL. Entering the second year under coordinator Gregg Williams, the group can play faster. Such is the case for 22-year-old Quinnen Williams, who totaled 31 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 9 quarterback hits in 2019 after he was drafted third overall. Williams has been training at Xtreme Fitness and Performance with Kevin Brown in Birmingham, AL. The two have been working together since the 6'3", 303-pounder was a junior in high school.

"He wants to show people, 'I was the third overall pick for a reason,' " Brown told ESPN. "That's his fire this offseason. Truly, he's all-in. I'm like, 'We need a Pro Bowl this year.' The mental space he's in now is totally on another level. This year, you guys will see a big difference in Quinnen Williams."

Comings and Goings
Since the end of the regular season, there hasn't been a lot of turnover along the DL. There are new players up front like third-round pick Jabari Zuniga and a pair of undrafted free agents in Pembroke's Domenique Davis (6'3", 315), and Coastal Carolina's Sterling Johnson (6'4, 285). General manager Joe Douglas drafted Zuniga, a Florida product whose senior year was cut short because of a high ankle sprain. The 6'3", 264-pounder totaled 14 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 3 sacks in just six games last season. In 42 total games (27 starts), Zuniga racked up 118 tackles, 34.5 TFLs and 18.5 sacks.

"I think, for me, when you're watching tape on Jabari, even when he was dealing with the ankle injury, his explosiveness, his suddenness jumps off tape," Douglas said. "He plays with really good hand strength. He can really disrupt gaps. He's an edge presence. His disruption percentage rate was high. He was close to a 16% pressure rate. … He's been a consistent producer in his four years at Florida, even with the injury, and I think we feel good about his makeup, the way that this guy competes."

The defensive line is one of the strongest and deepest positions on the team and should be an equally good or perhaps better unit in 2020.

"The level of camaraderie in our group is rare," defensive line coach Andre Carter said. "I told my guys that it's one thing to play great on Sundays, but it's one thing to have a brotherhood off the field. The guys will link up and have barbecues and what not, and relationships off the field are just as important as relationships on the field. ... That's one thing that these players do such a good job with and they've continued to stay in touch in the offseason. That's what makes a good group. When you have that level of continuity, now you've created a dynamic culture in the room and a standard."

See the Jets D-Line in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season